Amazon has reportedly complied with the Chinese Communist Party’s request to censor negative reviews of a book by dictator Xi Jinping.
A new report from Reuters indicates how Amazon removed adverse comments and reviews from its website for the book “Governance of China,” crediting Xi as its author. The book is a collection of essays and public speeches, and the reported censorship took place in 2018 on the company’s Chinese website.
Sources said that the demand was made by the CCP after negative reviews of the book began appearing on the website. One source said that anything “under five stars” was an issue for the party.
After complying with the Chinese government’s demand, the section for comments and reviews on the book remain disabled.
Amazon corporate documents from 2018 show that the company developed a strategy for working with the government of China to grow its market for Kindle e-book devices and cloud computing services in the communist country. Amazon said that it was not making any value judgments but recognized that the communist party uses “ideological control and propaganda” as a core part of its “toolkit” for its success.
Amazon decided that creating a selling portal called China Books on its platform was a “core element” of its strategy to alleviate China’s thirst for controlling and issuing propaganda. That portal sells several nonpolitical titles about language, cooking, and books for children. Many of the books sold through the portal are pure propaganda pushing the claimed virtues of communist living and washing away the government’s human rights abuses.
The internal document discovered by Reuters was a marketing briefing prepared for Jay Carney, who is Amazon’s chief of international lobbying and public policy. Carney worked in the Obama administration as the White House press secretary.
The document describes promoting China Books to safeguard against problems with the Chinese government in the company’s plans to sell Kindle readers and other products in the massive Chinese market.
Amazon provided a statement to Reuters saying that it complies with local laws wherever it operates, adding that “China is no exception.”